Sunday, February 23, 2014

Scanlation Get: Devilman vs Getter Robo

Devilman vs Getter Robo is mostly a generic team up title.  This is a pretty recent title as it was done in 2010, but uses the classic Getter Robo backgroud story of an evil Dinosaur Empire as the villains. For reason never explained Akira and Miki from Devilman show up at the Getter Robo base for an overnight stay. Silene has her own planes, she joins up with the Dinosaur Empire to try and take out both Devilman and Getter Robo.

The most interesting part of this manga is the final battle which include Miki and Michiru getting their own Getter to pilot.  Though in the end it doesn't do much, but at least the gave the ladies something to do, other than being damsels in distress. The best part is when the demons merge with the mechasaurus, which leads to some really cool looking designs.

Also, while in the information I could find for this lists Go Nagai as the author and mentions Dynamic Pro (Nagai's studio) as the artist. I find it odd that Ken Ishikawa isn't mentioned at all since Getter Robo was really his baby. The art is Nagai style but looks to be that yes it was probably done by someone other then him.  The faces and a few other things are just kind of off.

I can't say to much about this title.  It was short, only one volume. But it was a fun quick read, though pretty insubstantial. It pretty much is a by the books team up title, checking off all the tropes as it goes along.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Scanlation Get: Guerrilla High/Gakuen Taikutsu Otoko

At one point in time there was basically almost no Go Nagai manga in English.  Through the hard work of a lot of scanlators it seems like a mountain of his work is now available. Considering that the likelihood of his work actually getting published in U.S. is low, I really appreciate their efforts.  At first it was jut the big stuff but now we are seeing more and more of his lesser known works like today's title Guerrilla High.

In the late 1960s there was a rise of violent student movements in Universities.  This trickled down even to the lowest kindergarten class.  To a point where no teacher was safe. It was then decided teachers could carry weapons and even have a license to kill.  The students more oppressed then ever start guerrilla movements to bring down this tyranny. Only it seems the guerrilla's themselves are vicious maniacs.

Are heroes (anti-heroes?!) are Saotome Mondo and Midou Tatsuma.  At first it seems they really want to help the students but in truth Mondo just wants to incite violence and murder.  He ends up indirectly killing many of the students on his rampage through the school.  Midou seems like the reasonable one but when it comes down to it Midou can go off the edge just as bad.

The first volume ends with Midou just disappearing. The second volume introduces us to a new character Nishikiori Tsubasa.  The leader of an all female guerrilla group that goes around in bikinis and go go boots.  She is super strong and not afraid to fight sadly even though she seems like a pretty cool female character she ends up just being most a plot device (also she spends much of the second and third volumes with no pants or underwear on).  As she gets kidnapped and captured by our new villain Midoro Toranosuke, bandaged man, and Principal of an elite school.

At this point I guess his evil plan is to have Mondo rescue her?!  I'm not sure Mondo has no connection to her at this point and going goes to rescue her because she is hot and has nice boobs.  Truly, we stand at the peak of truly great motivation in stories.

After this point I don't want to say to much about the plot. The second half is full of strange twists and I wouldn't want to ruin them.  Though I will have to say this story just kind of ends on a "eh, what?" note.  A bunch of stuff happen and then then go for what seems to be the final fight. Only it's "The End" and not an actual final fight.

Other then the ending kind of leaving a bad taste in my mouth I enjoy this manga lot.  It runs at breakneck speed.  Something is always happening and there are tons of great fight scenes.  This is one of Go Nagai's hyper violent titles.  Whole mobs of people die in this.  While Nishikiori runs around with out much on there isn't nearly as much on the sex side.  It is certainly far more subdued then Cutey Honey in that aspect.

I want to say the plot is a mess (which it kind of it) but to me the big problem was Saotome Mondo's character.  Was he supposed to be a guerrilla for the people, a redemptionless murderer, someone who at least cares about his friends, or someone who cares about no one?  The character was kind of all over the place. Though, even with those problems it was still a really fun read.

The art in this is actually very nice.  I mean if you already don't like Go Nagai art, this isn't going to change your mind.  But this is some of the best I've seen from him.  Nothing to wacky or wonky looking.  Strong lines, some really great one page spreads, in that really scribblely style he does.  Also of note, huge chunks of this manga are in color.  Not just a page here or there but like 20 pages at a time or more.  For a color comic from the 1970s it is really nice color.  Much better then most American comics comparable in age.  It really makes me wish the whole manga was in color.

If you are looking for something over the top and don't want to think to hard, this is certainly a great red.  Guerrilla High even though it has problems was still a very fun read worth checking out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thoughts: Collecting Tips - Buying Used 2

Okay we have covered how to get used manga in real life but what about online?

The Internets

Don't want to be bothered going out to all these places?  Then online is the place to go.  The two retailers I'd suggested are Amazon Marketplace and Half.com. Often titles will be very cheap on both sites, but key is to remember shipping.  On Amazon used books can start at a penny and on Half.com books can start at seventy five cents.  Amazon Marketplace is different then normal Amazon and you will have to pay shipping, at least $3.99 per book. Half.com's shipping starts at $3.49, the real difference comes in when you buy multiple books from the same seller.  Half.com will reduce the shipping in about half for each subsequent book from the same seller.  Amazon Marketplace even if you order all your books from the same seller, each will have the same cost of shipping as the first book.  If you are looking to order more then one book at a time I highly recommend pricing it out on both sites.  A lot of the time even if the book costs more on Half.com the total cost will be lower due to shipping.  Also always try and get as many book as possible from the same seller for that reduced shipping cost.

Also, with these sites watch out for over inflated prices.  Sometimes a volume or a whole series is legitimately expensive because it went out of print and had a low print run.  Sometimes though sellers use bot programs to control the pricing, like being the cheapest for sale but only by a penny. Sometimes books will become super inflated, in the case the best solution is to wait for the seller to realize what has happen and hope they lower the price.

Another place to try is eBay. If you are just shopping around for some manga to buy eBay can be great. A lot of the time whole series show up in lots to buy. Just make sure you check around on other sites to see if you are getting a good deal. Now, if you are looking to fill out certain titles it can be a bit of mixed bag.

What if you just want one volume of a series from the middle of it? Or the title you are looking for is a bit more unusual? Then you can try eBay's saved searched.  You just put in a search you want and every time something new comes up under that search eBay sends you an email.

Another online outlet for buying used manga is Live Journal selling communities like Garage Sale Japan, Anime4Sale and Anime Shopping. Again this is a shot in the dark but is great place to find whole series and random volumes for great prices.  It's always a great way to unload your own stuff.  All you need to do is sign up for a Live Journal account.

Next time I'll talk about trading for want you want!

Thoughts: Collecting Tips - Buying Used 1

Okay we got buying new manga down but what if want to buy used, here are some tips for that. First why even buy used? If there is an old series that now seems interesting used maybe the only way to get it.  Also used is a great way to pick up stuff for cheap.

Brick & Mortar

One place to try is your local used book store.   Much like going to conventions to buy this can be a huge crap shoot.  Some used book stores have a great section of graphic novels with manga for good prices, others well not so much.  The nice thing about the used book store is you can take books you have laying around in for credit to use on picking up stuff you want.  Used books stores sometimes end up in weird places so it might be worth Googling it to see if any are in your area.

Then we go back to the local comic book store.  If you are familiar with your local shop then you will know if they carry used books or not.  While back issues of single comics are common, used volumes of graphic novels and manga not so much.  It can't hurt to ask though.

Another shot in the dark is a book sale.  These are local events held by generally by libraries (but other places also) selling off a huge mass of used books for super cheap.  I've found some very interesting books at sales like this but the manga kind be kind of iffy.  A lot of the time the people running the book sale don't know where to put manga so you may have to look in children's and sci-fi sections.

Another brick and mortar store I would highly recommend is Book Off.  Book Off is a Japanese chain of used book/video game/DVD etc. stores.  Currently there is one store in New York City, five out in California, and two in Hawaii. They will often have a good selection of manga in English, anime DVDs, and art books.  Most of the manga here runs about $5 dollars or less.  When I was visiting friends out in LA I think we visited almost all of the stores in the area.  I brought back more stuff from Book Off then I did from Anime Expo that year.  I also make sure to stop in the New York store every time I'm in the city.  Now, what if you don't live close to one?  Well you get someone else to look for you, which I'll get to more in a another post.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thoughts: Collecting Tips - Buying New

So you want to start collecting manga or you are collecting manga but looking for a bit more help?  Here are my best tips when it comes to collecting.  Some of these might seem like common sense but sometimes you might just not think of it.

How did this all get here?!


Buying New

So, if there is a series you really want and it is going to come out soon or is currently coming out, pick it up as soon as possible.  Yes, a lot of series devalue over time but there are many cases of a great series going out of print (OOP) shortly after release and having super jacked up prices.  So, often to avoid headaches I suggest getting titles as they come out.  This might seem expensive but there are way to save money.

One thing not to do is buy from a big box retailer.  Not that I hate Barnes & Noble, but there other ways and places to acquire manga cheaper. One of those is to try your local comic book shop.  Local shops often will give a deal if become a "subscriber." You order so many titles a month (with the plan to get future volumes) and the store gives a discount on all these titles.  Generally in the range of 10% to 20%.  Since manga isn't monthly for the most part, you will have to talk to the store owner about making arrangements.  Most of the time store owners are more then willing to make a deal with you.  Also even if you don't see your favorite manga at the local store there is a good chance they can order it in for you.

Another great way to get new manga cheap is Amazon.  It is almost always discounted to some degree.  I just looked up Sailor Moon Volume 1 and it is 35% off.  Now another great thing about Amazon is pretty much everything over $25 dollars will have free shipping.  I just wait for about three titles I want to come out and order all three at once for the free shipping.  If you have Amazon Prime then you don't even need to worry about that.  If you are a student you can get a free six month trial of Amazon Prime no less.

Another online retailer that is worth trying rightstuf.com.  They often have sales from different publisher that give for around 33% off.  They also have a Got Anime? Purchasing Club Membership which gives an additional 10% off.  Though unless you are ordering over $49 dollars you will have to pay shipping costs.

One last suggestion for buying new is buying new titles at cons.  This can be a crapshoot though.  Some publishers like Vertical sell all their books at a great discount ($10 a piece for books that run $16.95 sometimes) but you have to hurry to the dealers room right away to get what you want.  Other dealers may offer discounts on newer books also.  There are also deep discount sellers with deals like 10 for $40, on new but slightly older titles.  Where the more you buy the cheaper it is.  If you are in the dealers room you can put your books together for an even better deal. If there is something you are really jiving for, it might be worth a look.

Next time I'll talking about getting those series you might of missed out new in "Buying Used."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thoughts: Otakon 2012

Another con, another haul.  Otakon this year was interesting for me, it was the first year I did two costumes and the one that I went to least amount of panels. Also it was freaking hot.

Friday I was dressed as the titular Franken Fran.  Which was interesting to say the least. As a manga only character I didn't expect a ton of people to know me (though at least a few people did).  What I didn't think of, was that most people would think I was dressed as female Stein from Soul Eater.  (Which is kind of funny because after I made my head bolts I made the Stein screw for one of my friends.) The costume was much hotter then I expected.  With the long wig and lab coat I had to stop shopping at one point in the dealers room.  I'm not sure if it was just the heat or if I was having hot flashes (I have some hormonal problems).  I still got a pretty good haul despite all this.

Saturday was interesting to say the least... I don't think I did much other then wear my costume and do a little shopping.  My friends like to get pictures in the Otakon Photo Suite early in the morning but things got all screwed up. I got in my Glados Potato costume later then I had planned but I figured it would be fine because we would be starting late.  Ugh, no so instead of 12 pm we did the shoot at around 5:30.  I was in the costume in the early after noon but after a couple of hours of wearing it I just couldn't do it any more and deposited in a friend's room in the Hilton for a bit.  I then did some more dealer's room and artist's alley shopping.  Which when much better, I was less hot and I felt like people were being way less pushy then on Friday.  I went and retrieved my costume but getting anywhere in it was a challenge.  I had a porthole view but it was so low I could only really see the chest area on people.  I tried going down and escalator and never before had I been so scared to try.  Luckily, a guy talked me through it.  Then I found out the Hilton skywalk bridge was closed (for what reason I guess I'll never know) so I had to go outside again.  Once that costume gets hot, it stays hot.  Even with a fan inside, it was like being in a mobile sweat lodge.  I did finally get my photos taken but I had to get out of the costume a.s.a.p. after that.  My legs are still sore from it.

On one hand I never want to wear this freaking this costume again but on the other had I'd like to try again and do it better.  It wasn't as last minute as the Fran costume but it was still done under a month.  My friend did the wire frame, batting, stuffing, and fabric.  I did the wires, clips, and face plate.  I guess we will see, for a winter convention I don't think it would be so bad heat wise.  Though we would have to figure out how to set the porthole so I can see faces instead of chests.

Sunday was the only day I went to a panel that wasn't my own.  I went to the Vertical panel, which I try to go to every year.  They are publishing some interesting stuff this year, Wolfsmund looks pretty cool and some how they ended up with the job of printing Queen's Blade art books (even Ed didn't seem to enthused by this).  Also Twin Spica is going out of print because of poor sales which is pretty sad, Ed quoted numbers and it was abysmal.  Remember if you really want a title to come out here buy it!

I ran two panels myself.  Both of them were 18+ this time around.  I did a Go Nagai panel, which was a rehash from last year but with more 18+ content.  Last year I managed to be informative this year I managed to wave my hands around a lot and spout stuff.  I tried, but it just wasn't with me this time.  It didn't help we ran into technical difficulties. My netbook only has HDMI out so I told my co-panelist to bring his laptop (we used his last year).  There is where we ran into a problem it was a different laptop but only had HDMI out also.  Fuuuuuuuuuuuu... Luckily the con staffer  and the audio guy called for a HDMI converter and I call my friend for her laptop.  Of course pretty much everything comes at once.  I tell my friend we don't need her laptop and she leaves.  Only my co-panelist's computer won't duplicate the screen.  Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.... I call my friend again and she runs down her laptop, again.  Fortunately we got there early enough that we were only 5 minutes late to start. It went pretty well, we had some laughter and we didn't have any one really get up to leave (which is always a good thing).

Saturday said laptop friend, another friend, and I ran a yaoi panel called Sugar & Old Spice.  Two of us had previously done it at MangaNext.  Only at MangaNext it was the same time as the rave and so only three people who really loved yaoi showed up.  Otakon we packed a room (a small room but still a room).  My friends were very prepared but I was not so much.  I knew the stuff because it is stuff I am very familiar with but I should have had notes.  Still we filled the time pretty well and had people asking us all kinds of questions.  It was cool.

As for the actual haul it was:

Printed yaoi web comics
Star Fighter - 1 & 2
Teahouse - 1 to 3


Manga
DMC  - 5 & 6
He Is My Master - 5 & 6
Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~  - Omnibus 1 & 2
Lament of the Lamb - 5

No Longer Human - 2 & 3
Ooku - 4
Sakuran
Sensual Phrase - 9
Three Wolves Mountain
Velveteen & Mandala
Venus Versus Virus - Omnibus (4 to 6), 7, 8

Other
Mine Turtle t-shirt
Persona 4 Arena t-shirt (My friend got it at E3 but she gave it to me at Otakon)
Tanto Cuore playing mat

Some of the manga came from a friend who got it at a local store to her for super cheap.

Over all a weird but interesting year.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Scanlation Get: Dororon Enma-kun

This one is a weird one to talk about and I may be skewed from watching Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera before finishing the manga. I’d pretty much sum up the manga as interesting ideas, lackluster execution.

Are heroes are the titular Enma-kun (nephew of Hell’s Great King Enma), Yukihime (an ice princess), Kapperu (a cute looking kappa), and Chapeauji (literally a sentient old man hat).  Enma-kun and friends are sent to Earth to (ostensibly) capture demons that have escaped from hell.  Expect Enma-kun kills them pretty much every time.

While there are some longer story arcs most of the stories are short one chapter affairs.  I think that is part of the problem the manga seems to be going somewhere at first and then just trails off into nowhere.  Part way through I was pretty sad because I came to the realization that the ending was going to be lame and I was pretty right.

It is supposed to be a horror/comedy but comes out more like light horror/juvenile sex comedy.  Which is a little strange when all of the characters look to be about eight.  Also there are only so many jokes about getting to seeing Yukihime’s vag I can take before it has worn out its welcome.  I also think a lot of the jokes almost work but don’t seem to follow through and they just fall kind of flat.

So here comes a left turn, while I personally would tell most people to skip this manga, I highly suggest checking out two anime based on it.  

One is Kikoushi Enma (Demon Prince Enma) this came out a few years ago in the US on DVD. While it is out of print and can be purchased used pretty easily online.  Kikoushi Enma re-imagines the characters as grownups and goes for a dark and moody atmosphere.  It reminded me a lot of Hell Girl but a bit more mature.  Also it was animated by Brains Base.  So the animation is pretty nice, some of it is a little dated by 3d effects but it doesn’t hamper the anime any.

The other is the more recent Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera.  This was also animated by Brains Base. For a TV series this show looks freaking good.  Really clean, sharp animation with lots of detail, way more then I would have expected for a show like this.  Also it is what the manga basically should have been.  It still has some of strangeness of eight year olds in a sex comedy but it goes way sillier than the manga and cuts out some of the strangeness of the manga (Like why is Enma-kun always in some underwear-diaper thing?).  NIS recently announced it for a U.S. release September 2012.  I have to say it is really great it manages to build off the content of the manga, it builds up to something, and take what was a kind of out of context lame ending to manga and turn it into something cool and funny.